Boss of Emirates warns it could take four years to rebuild its network

Emirates president warns it could take up to FOUR YEARS to rebuild the airline’s entire network, which it’s had to dismantle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

  • Tim Clark said it would be 2023/24 when things would return to ‘normality’ 
  • He added this period is the most difficult in the airline’s 35-year history 
  • Emirates is currently asking passengers to wear gloves and face masks onboard 

Emirates’ outgoing president has said it could take the state carrier up to four years to resume flying to its entire network, which has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dubai-based airline, which flew to 157 destinations in 83 countries before the pandemic, grounded passenger flights in March and has since operated a few, limited services.

‘I think probably by the year 2022/23, 2023/24 we will see things coming back to some degree of normality and Emirates will be operating its network as it was and hopefully as successfully as it was,’ Tim Clark said in a webcast interview with aviation consultant John Strickland.

Emirates’ outgoing president has said it could take the state carrier up to four years to resume flying to its entire network

Emirates has warned that the current period would be the most difficult in its 35-year history and on Sunday said it had made some staff redundant due to the impact of the pandemic.

Clark, who is to become an adviser to the airline this month when he steps down as president, said the industry could start to recover by the summer next year if a widely available vaccine was successfully developed by early 2021.

‘We will start to see an uptick, quite a large uptick in demand for travel,’ Clark said, adding that Emirates would be able to get its fleet ready within 48 hours if it had to.

Demand would likely continue to increase into 2023 and 2024 unless there was another major trauma to the global economy, he added.

However, Clark warned that physical distancing on planes was not economically and environmentally practical because it would mean flying aircraft half empty.

Emirates will for now continue to ask passengers to wear gloves and face masks onboard, he said.

Emirates is currently asking passengers to wear gloves and face masks onboard. Pictured is the economy cabin on one of its A380s 

Clark also added that contractual obligations mean that airlines cannot continue to keep their fleets grounded.

‘We must get this business back on its feet as quickly as possible,’ said the Emirates boss, whose own fleet includes 115 Airbus A380 superjumbos.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated last week that global airlines will lose $314billion in 2020 revenues, a 55 per cent dive from last year. 

A Virgin Atlantic captain, meanwhile, has urged travellers to ‘buy airline tickets like you bought toilet paper’.

Captain Chris Pohl, 56, who has been flying for 38 years, posted a picture of himself holding up a piece of cardboard carrying the message to his Instagram profile – and it has now received over 4,100 ‘likes’. And he said he’d received messages of support from all over the world.

Virgin Atlantic Captain Chris Pohl has been urging travellers to book tickets. He posted this image to his Instagram page

Customers are even using the hashtag #buyairlineticketslikeyouboughttoiletpaper in WhatsApp exchanges with Virgin Atlantic customer service teams.

Captain Pohl, who has logged 24,000 flying hours, explained that the inspiration came from Instagram sensation @dudewithsign, whose similarly styled pronouncements have led to 7.5million followers, and @pilotcharlotte, who posted a similar message.

The Australian, who lives in south-west France, near Toulouse, hopes that the photo, which was taken at the top of his son’s BMX ramp at their home, will help to ‘get the world flying again’.  

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